Who the Heck is Aramis Ramirez?
added 4/8/2001 by Steve Cutchen
Aramis Ramirez slugged a mighty .402 and hit 6 home runs last year. Today he hit three in a row to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a series clinching 9-3 blowout of the Houston Astros before 30174 paying fans at Enron.
Ramirez was denied his chance to tie a major league record 4 homers in a game by a semi-intentional walk off Astros reliever Wayne Franklin. I thought he'd roll the fourth pitch up there...
The line for Ramirez? 3 for 3, 3 runs scored, 6 RBI.
Before the Game
My son Ryan and I got to the game about an hour and 45 minutes before the first pitch. We like to get there early, get some food and watch BP.
I always look to see what the $8 Homestand Special is. If you haven't tried this, let me recommend it to you. You'll find it at the All Aboard for the Major Leagues booth located on the Concourse level, just outside Union Station at the Crawford Boxes. There is a sign showing a special which is based on the hometown food of the visiting team. Today we had a Rueben sandwich, with fries and a pickle. Good stuff.
We tried some new seating locations this year. Last year we were behind the plate, but in the nosebleed section; just a couple of rows from the roof. For today, we were in Section 334, row 2.
Here's the view:
Now, I was worried about being able to see the scoreboard. It was close, but the scoreboard WAS readable.
Ryan and I noticed a couple of changes to Enron. First was a nice surprise; there is a second screen showing pitches and speeds located along the third base line. This was great for those of us sitting on the first base side. Also, the new pennants are up!
I also got the see the Honor J.R. sign that Holly Sommer had made. I took a picture of it, but I didn't have a long enough lens. Ryan and I took a field trip down to Holly's seat prior to the first pitch. First time I've met Holly. She's as nice in person as you would expect from someone who writes so eloquently and persuasively. Great seats. First row 300 section. Just to the 1st base side of the plate enough to see the pitches well. And boy howdy was she set up for the game! Palm Pilot with ScorePad software, Radio for following Milo and Alan's coverage... all compactly stored and easy to get to. I felt like a clod with my overly-big binoculars and my clipboard full of home-printed scoresheet and stats.
OK... Well I guess I've delayed as much as I can. I'm gonna have to talk about the game. SIGH.
Elarton; Not So Great Scott
Basically, Elarton just flat fooled NOBODY. He started off in the first with two quick outs, but then the wheels came off. A walk to Vander Wall on 4 straight pitches. Then an RBI double to Giles and the first of Ramirez's homers. Elarton was behind Bell, Vander Wall and Giles.
Things looked up in the second, with a three up three down, but this was the bottom of the Buc's order. The third inning was the tale of the tape:
Elarton just could not keep from getting hit.
This had nothing to do with Enron and everything to do with Elarton.
And you know what? I'm not surprised. I picked against Elarton in Game 1 against Milwaukee. Scott had an awful spring. 4 games started. 18 innings pitched. 8 walks on 7 strikeouts. A 7.50 ERA.
Scott needs to get his pitches moving again or he is this year's Lima. Which is BAD news, considering LIMA might be this year's Lima, too!
In the other half of the game, things were up and down.
On the positive side, Bagwell began to break out. He went 2 for 4 with a walk. He had his first home run of the year in the first inning and ended the day with 1 run scored and 2 RBI.
Lugo also went 2 for 4 and got a dinger. And Berkman completed the 2-4 triumvirate.
But on the down side, Biggio, Hidalgo and Truby were all collared. And with them sitting in the 2-4-6 holes, this was a guarantee to keep the Astros from getting any rally going.
Eusebio and Barker started for Ward and Ausmus. They went a combined 1 for 6, with Tony collecting a walk.
The wind was blowing out to Crawford. And it was blowing HARD.
And look at these OPS coming into the game:
The Pirates have a lot of health problems in their starting rotation; we got to go after two guys in their first MLB action of the year; Joe Beimel and Billy Taylor. This was Beimel's first MLB appearance. So 3 runs on 7 hits was a big disappointment.
With Elarton never getting an at bat, the key to the Astros staying within sight of the Pirates was going to be the Astros bullpen. This is precisely the kind of game that Hunsicker had in mind when he built up the relief corp this off season. And they did a good job.
First in was Scott Linebrink. A perfect 3 up 3 down in the 4th, on 7 strikes and 4 balls. I would have liked to see him go further, but he came out for pinch hitter Vizcaino in the bottom of the stanza.
Nelson Cruz came in for a two plus inning stint in the 5th. Other than serving up Ramirez's third homer, he gave up no earned runs. The Bucs did get a run in the 6th, but it was unearned, due to a two base error on Lugo. He airmailed Pat Meares' grounder into the Astros dugout in the 6th.
Wayne Franklin came in to relieve Cruz in the 7th with Bell on second and Vander Wall on first. He got the GIDP from Giles, walked Ramirez and then nursed a deep fly ball from Enrique Wilson. Franklin also pitched the 8th, giving up a single.
Wagner came in for the 9th in what must have been needed work. He set the Pirates down in order.
In summary, this was a game in which Elarton displayed some of the pitching, or lack thereof, that had me worried in Spring Training. The Astros again were stymied by rookie pitching. And the home crowd went away disappointed.
Now it's off to the road. I think we'll know by the time the Astros get back to Enron if we really are seeing a different team this year than last.